During a visit on Wednesday, July 3 to the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas, three drawings were given to Dr. Sara Goza of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that offer insight into the world that children detained in US government detention centers at the US/Mexico border are forced to endure.
The black line drawings were relayed to Dr. Goza by a mental health clinician/social worker specializing in Latino child trauma, according to AAP. In an email to Hyperallergic, AAP explained that one of the drawings is by a 10-year-old boy from Guatemala, another by an 11-year-old from Guatemala, and the third one was by a different 10-year-old child whose country of origin remains unclear. It’s also unclear which of the CBP facilities at the border housed these specific children.
The Respite Center, which is run by Sister Norma Pimentel, is where many families go after being released from United States Customs and Border Protection custody and processing en route to their final destination. AAP explained that the Respite Center is where “many families get their first shower, clean clothes, and a hot meal after arriving in the US. The kids were asked to draw on these canvases depicting their time spent in CBP custody.”
In a recent interview with CBS This Morning, Dr. Goza, who is the president of AAP, spoke about the conditions at the border and explained, “When they opened the door, the first thing that … hit us was a smell. It was the smell of sweat, urine and feces … And I heard crinkling to my left and I looked over there and it was a sea of silver … there were young children, boys in there. Unaccompanied boys in there.”
The drawings give us a window to the shadowy world that is being constructed and maintained at the US/Mexico border.